YOU’RE IN THE ARMY, NOW!
Years ago, when I was in college I enlisted in a three- month’s program with the US Public Health Service (USPHS). It was called the COSTEP Program (Commissioned Officers Student Training and Extern Program).
I was appointed as a Junior Assistant Sanitarian (Nurs S), then later, after the program as a Lt. JG Assistant Nurse Officer Corps; Reserve Inactive.
At the University of Alabama, there were three nurses selected to participate in this program. One nurse was assigned to Fort Leavenworth Prison Division and two of us were assigned the US Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans, known as the Merchant Marine Hospital.
My roommate was Virginia Armstrong from Central Park in Birmingham. We drove down to New Orleans in her small 1956 Hudson automobile. We were housed in a dormitory with college kids from all over the US.
We were assigned our medical and surgical units and immediately began our orientation to the units. We wore our regular white nurses’ uniforms with the gold bar for Lieutenant on one collar and the Public Health Emblem on the other collar. Of course, we always wore our nurses’ caps.
All was not work though, after work a group of us would head out to Lake Ponchetrain to picnic and swim. (Can’t imagine swimming in the lake today) At night we walked in the French Quarters listening to the music.
After all these years, “ I’m in the army now?” WOW. No, I was just asked to participate. This is a fully funded field training is open to all USPHS inactive Reserve Corps Officers. The objective of this field training is to enhance team cohesion, build resiliency, improve operational readiness and foster cross-cultural experiences. The training was to be conducted at Fort AP Hill, an army training facility in Bowling Green, Virginia.
Lots of information was sent to me and I took keen interest in the description of the required uniform. I was instructed that if I chose to participate I would need to go to the local army and navy surplus store and buy battle dress uniforms. This is the combat uniform they are wearing in Iraq! Shirts and pants and black combat boots are required. Pants are worn tucked into the boots. And oh, don’t forget the hat!
Information was kept flowing. It was a good thought, this training, but the type of physical exams I was expected to take took up pages and pages. Even to testing my swimming skills. (I can’t swim).
So, I politely said no to the training offer and let the young folks carry on those duties.